According to a recent report, over three in four drivers have already been in at least one road accident.
That’s how common auto accidents are, and they can happen to even the most prudent drivers. Regardless of how safe a driver you are, you can’t say the same for other motorists. Do note that in the US, 510 motor vehicle-related injuries occurred every hour in 2019.
With that said, it’s best to prepare yourself by knowing the steps to take after a car accident. Some of these are legal requirements, while others are for your health and safety.
This step-by-step guide discusses what to do after a car accident, so be sure to keep reading.
1. Do Not Leave the Scene
Fender-benders are some of the most common types of car crashes that result in minor damages. However, you need to stop and remain at the site of the crash, regardless of how minor the auto accident is.
All US states require anyone involved in a car crash to stop and render help to an injured person. Motorists who break this law can face a hit-and-run charge.
Hit-and-run offenses are common in the US, with more than half a million cases occurring each year. In fact, an average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes took place per year from 2006 to 2015.
With that said, it’s imperative to stay at the scene of a crash until law enforcers tell you that you can leave.
2. Avoid Blocking the Road
Mind where you stop your car; if you can, steer it to the side of the road to avoid blocking the flow of traffic. If you can’t move the car, switch your emergency or hazard lights on. This can help notify other drivers from afar, preventing more accidents.
3. See If Anyone Needs Emergency Medical Help
Check yourself from head to toe to confirm if you have injuries. This is crucial, as the initial shock of the accident may leave you numb, giving you a false sense of being unhurt. Check on your passengers and the folks in the other vehicles, too.
If anyone is bleeding profusely, can’t move, or has fainted, call 911 right away. Unless there’s a threat of a fire or an explosion, it’s best not to move an injured person. Doing so may make their injuries worse, which is why it’s a must to call emergency medical services.
4. Call the Police
All US motorists must report car accidents that cause injuries or deaths to the police.
As for crashes that only result in property damage, states have varying regulations. Most states have a specific monetary threshold for property-damage-only accidents. For example, Florida drivers must report a crash that caused property damage of over $500.
You can always call the police for help, even if the crash you got involved in doesn’t meet that threshold. It’s better to let the police know even if it turns out that you don’t have to file a crash report.
Besides, law enforcers will let you know when it’s fine for you to leave the scene of the crash. They can also help reduce the confusion that usually ensues after accidents. Moreover, they can deal with non-cooperative drivers and help prevent violent disputes.
Whether the police goes to the scene or only speaks to you over the phone, get their names and badge number. Your insurance company will likely ask you for these details once you file a claim.
5. Exchange Personal and Insurance Details With the Other Drivers
Ask the other drivers to show you their driver’s license and auto insurance card. This helps ensure they have a valid license and adequate insurance coverage. Extend the other drivers the same courtesy by giving them your DL and insurance card.
Copy the complete names, addresses, and contact details of the other involved parties. List down their insurance provider’s name and contact information, too. Don’t forget to take note of their car insurance policy number and license plate numbers.
After that, please avoid further conversation with the other motorists. Don’t allow them to provoke you, especially not if they’re blaming you for the crash. Don’t apologize either, as the other drivers may take this as an acknowledgment of fault.
If an involved party doesn’t want to cooperate, call the police. Do the same if you feel that they’re threatening you. You may also want to follow this blog if you think you may be partially at fault in an auto accident.
6. Collect Photographic Evidence
Use your smartphone’s camera to take pictures and videos of the crash scene. Snap close-up, landscape, bird’s-eye view, and panoramic photos of the site. It’s also a good idea to record everything you can recall before, during, and after the crash.
7. Talk to Witnesses
Pedestrians and other uninvolved motorists may have witnessed the crash. Talk to them and ask for their permission to record their accounts. If they’re willing, get their names and contact information, too.
8. Contact Your Car Insurance Company
Call your auto insurance provider while you’re still at the scene of the accident. Tell them what happened and inform them that you’ve already spoken to the police. Provide them the names and the badge numbers of the officers you spoke with.
9. Get a Medical Check-Up
Car accident injuries, such as concussions or whiplash, may have delayed symptoms. It may take a few days or even weeks before these injuries exhibit signs. That’s why it’s imperative to see a doctor as soon as you can following a crash.
Do note that many crash injuries, including whiplash, can result in long-term disabilities. In some patients, whiplash complications and symptoms can last for five years or more. That’s enough reason to head to a clinic or hospital after a crash, even if you don’t have visible injuries.
10. Consult a Car Accident Attorney
It’s a good idea to reach out to a car accident attorney if you’ve sustained major injuries. Do the same if the crash results in massive property damage. Your lawyer can file an insurance or legal claim on your behalf, letting you focus on your recovery.
Your auto accident attorney can also negotiate with the other involved parties. This is especially helpful if the other drivers and their insurers are uncooperative. Your lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure you don’t get blamed for more than what you’re at fault for.
Follow All These Vital Steps To Take After a Car Accident
There you have it, your ultimate guide on the most important steps to take after a car accident. Please don’t skip any of them, especially the part about stopping your car and rendering help. Otherwise, you may face hefty fines and severe penalties if you get tagged as a hit-and-run driver.
Feel free to bookmark this page so that you can reference it if you ever find yourself in a car crash. You may also want to check out our other travel and educational posts for more useful guides like this.